Amid the excitement over the arrival of the cheetahs in Kuno National Park, villagers around Sheopur district, Madhya Pradesh have various concerns including fear of land acquisition and fear of the big cat itself.
Some people are optimistic, however, that once the KNP becomes famous for its new entrants, the increase in tourist numbers will create jobs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning released eight cheetahs brought from Namibia to a quarantine compound at the KNP as part of a project to revive the population of the animal that died out in India in 1952.
“What will happen to my small food outlet when the remaining four to five villages are moved to the park? We are already impacted financially due to the relocation of 25 villages for Kuno Park over the past 15 years,” said Radheshyam Yadav, a salesman. selling snacks and tea on Sheopur-Shivpuri road, speaking to PTI. His store is in Sesaipura, 15 km from KNP. Ramkumar Gurjar, a farmer, fears that residents of Sesaipura will lose their livelihood due to a nearby dam project. “The villages were moved earlier for the national park. Now a dam project is underway on the Kuno River in nearby Katila region. This project is going to affect at least 50 villages which are connected to Sesaipura. , what will happen to groceries, clothes and other small businesses in Sesaipura? Then our village will be left alone here,” Gurjar told PTI. When asked about the hope that cheetahs will bring more tourists, he claimed that the hotel business would be run by “wealthy foreigners” and that local residents would only get menial jobs in hotels and restaurants.Santos Gurjar, another resident, said that as a result displacement of villages, a local trader who sold groceries, fertilizers and seeds had to move to Shivpuri due to lack of activity.
Dharmendra Kumar Ojha, who runs a clothing store, fears that cheetahs are entering the villages. “What will the local people get out of this project? Foreigners are buying land for hotels and restaurants. The relocation of villages will affect the business more. But the project will bring infrastructural development,” Ojha said. Surat Singh Yadav, who runs a teahouse on the road to the national park, believes the cheetah reintroduction project will create jobs in the area.
“Land prices are rising…those with legal land title are asking for higher prices. There is a temporary jump in business due to the Prime Minister’s program but I cannot say for the future “, did he declare. Another trader, Keshav Sharma, claimed his business had tripled.
“Land prices have gone up. Tourists used to come here in small numbers before, but their numbers will definitely increase now,” he said. Kailash, a worker and resident of the village of Tiktoli, two kilometers from the KNP’s front door, was worried about the future.
“I don’t know the benefits, but I’m scared because the cheetah came here. Where will we go,” he said. Kamal, who belongs to Tiktoli and currently lives in Sheopur, said the village has no water supply, telephone network and jobs and the only source of livelihood is subsistence farming.
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